Sally O'Connell: Spreading Birthday Joy
For Newtown Square resident Sally O’Connell, birthdays are kind of a big deal. She loves to make cards for friends and family and join in every celebration! So when Sally was searching for volunteer opportunities to do with her 5-year-old granddaughter Emily, The Birthday Giving Program seemed a perfect fit.
My older grandchildren are all involved with their own activities already,” explained Sally, “so I wanted to find something fun, meaningful and memorable to do with Emily.
Sally contacted the folks at The Birthday Giving Program, submitted her application and was approved to start a local chapter in August 2020. Even though we were in the middle of the pandemic, she and Emily found ways to safely help those in need.
Every month, the pair puts together birthday bags that go directly to the Salvation Army in Chester. Sally and Emily provide 10 bags that are filled with various toys and games like coloring books, puzzles, slime, superhero masks and silly putty for kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity to celebrate their special day. “Emily feels happy that she is giving gifts to children who might not get any,” Sally said.
The Birthday Giving Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit program established in 2017. They provide birthday bags to children, adults, seniors and veterans affected by poverty, addiction, abuse, violence or physical/ mental challenges. The program partners with over 70 nonprofits across 34 states such as homeless shelters, food pantries, churches, nursing homes and hospitals. Sally is grateful to be an integral part of this organization where she can combine her love of birthdays, giving back locally and sharing special time with her granddaughter.
Time is something Sally has more of these days. Although she works full-time as a Human Resource Manager for AmeriGas Propane in King of Prussia, she is working remotely, which eliminates her commute and travel schedule. “Prior to the pandemic, I traveled a lot for business, visiting clients up and down the East Coast. That didn’t leave me much time to give back by volunteering on a consistent basis,” she said. “I used to volunteer for one-time events here and there, but now I am determined to make the time to help these kids celebrate even when I do resume traveling.”
Sally is enjoying the benefits of staying safe at home. She loves being close to her kids and her grandkids. And she’s delighted to still be able to help those in need, and feels blessed to be part of such a warm and welcoming community.